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Tart tatin pans

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I should've paid better attention, but it seems all of a sudden tart Tatin pans with handles have disappeared. I don't get it, Mauviel. The handles were functional. The new pans with no handles just look like they'd be a PITA to turn out. Thought I'd snag a round 8 or 9" copper gratin as a substitute. They seem to have evaporated as well. What else would work well for tart Tatin and for stovetop to oven clafoutis?

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  1. Tarte tatin is traditionally made in a naked cast iron frying pan, though enameled is fine. No reason not to do the same for clafouti.

    12 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      Well, that will be my MO. Now I am ready for cherry season. I will, however, continue to cruise eBay. You never know. People every now and then have just what I'd like and their price is within reason, although less and less of late as eBay becomes more and more of a commercial outlet.

      1. re: greygarious

        Im pretty sure that it was traditionally made in copper. Just looked into it and there is actually an account of how it was made, by Marie Souchon, a close friend of the Tatin sisters:

        "Use a copper dish, without which one cannot make this delicious tarte. You will also need a coal-fired stove well stocked with embers. Rest your copper dish on top, and place embers over the lid of the dish since you will need equal heat from above and below to be successful.

        Recipe:Take a good chunk of butter and knead it vigorously. Spread it over the bottom of your copper dish, and cover generously with a layer of sugar. Cut up pippin or calvile apples, and place them carefully into your dish. Put as many layers as the dish will hold. Cover the apples with a thick layer of sugar. Separately, prepare a dough with flour, butter, and water. Roll it out as thinly as possible, about 1 millimeter [3/64"]. Cover the apples and trim the dough around the dish. Cover with the lid which must not touch the dough. Bake as mentioned above. Once done, cover the tarte with a serving dish and flip it upside down. Eat warm"

        Today, at the the Hotel Tatin in which it was invented, it is still made in a tin-lined copper mold. Well actually from what Julia says, they didn't even use a special mold, they used a regular copper sauteuse. Some do use cast iron or even silicone nowadays which is fine.

        1. re: HououinKyouma

          Hi, HK:

          It's doubtful the sisters Tatin invented this prep. It is credited to them in the 1880s, but as I wrote above, Careme published what is essentially the same recipe in 1841.

          Agree, however that you can't beat a copper pan for TT.


          1. re: HououinKyouma

            Whether or not this account is correct, the technique sounds bad to me. I assume that covering the pan is necessary in order to have enough time for the thick layer of apples to soften, but it inhibits evaporation and prevents the pastry from browning and crisping.

            In contrast, Pepin uses a cast iron frying pan, buttered and sugared, and cooks the apples until most of the juice has evaporated into a thick syrup. Only then does the crust go on, prior to uncovered baking until the pastry is perfectly done.

            1. re: greygarious

              Hi, greygarious:

              This thread prompted me to do a TT today--uncovered as you recommend.


              1. re: kaleokahu

                This is cruel and unusual punishment. I am on a strict nutrition plan while on P90X. >:(

                Should be done by now. Bet it turned out amazing especially with that awesome stove you have.

                1. re: HououinKyouma

                  It's coming out in 2 minutes, then resting for 30 before we see if it turns out.

                2. re: kaleokahu

                  Lovely - for future reference, I have seen it made on TV by more than one chef. To save time and effort, and to make the apples cook through quicker, arrange a layer of thickly-sliced apples attractively into the butter-sugar at the bottom of the pan. But then just pile on mandolined or thinly hand-sliced apples. You won't see them in the finished tarte so all that's important is getting a thick, cooked layer.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    Hi, greygarious:

                    All the times I've made TT, it's been a precarious balance between getting the caramel dark enough and keeping the "top" apple slices intact enough to be recognizable at the finish (The caramel will not darken further after the crust goes on). And, if you add the apple after the caramel is close, the apple flavor suffers.

                    I'm coming to the conclusion that I need to up the heat. But that's a delicate balance, too, because the caramel can easily scorch.

                    If I had one tip to share, it's that you keep your pate brisee at least a 1/4 inch thick.

                    I guess I'll just have to suffer making it time after time... [Sob!]


                3. re: greygarious

                  No oven to use...this was their oven. They placed the pan on the stove with embers on top of the lid...pretty much a makeshift oven. Different times, different technology.

                  1. re: HououinKyouma

                    Hi, HK:

                    I think you and greygarious are both right. if you made the tart in a footed tortiere in the hearth, you would cook it uncovered until the caramel was dark/dry enough, then you would cover it and add coals in the rimmed lid to bake the crust.


                  2. re: greygarious

                    I'm clearly biased due to fact that I've had a crush on Pepin for 25+ years, but I never make a tart tatin using any method other than that prescribed by Chef Jacques Pepin. His recipe/technique has never failed me.

              2. The All-Clad petite braiser comes to mind. It is a really versatile pan. I have the SS tri-ply version, there is also a copper core version apparently.

                Found this on the AC website, by Thomas Keller,

                1. Back in the day I used a tin lined straight sided copper sauteuse

                  1. Hi, Tim:

                    I'm not sure a gratin is deep enough for my tastes for TT A 2" depth is standard. Wouldn't rivet heads mess up the tart when you rotate the tart in the caramel to prevent sticking and artfully smoosh your fruit down?

                    Handles would be a help, but only if they sit below the rim, so the tart can be turned out onto a plate, cake stand, etc. None of my gratins with loop handles would invert properly. Maybe ear-style handles a la a Pommes Anna...

                    I think the qualities you'd look for in a substitute would be round, that approx. 2" depth, and conductive enough on your hobs for confectionary use.

                    There was an ebay seller not long ago who had around a dozen Mauviel tinned 2mm TTs (sans manche) for not much money.


                    5 Replies
                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      hey kaleo - i just went over to ebay to check to see if those pans were listed again.... only i misspelled tart tatin to tarte tatin...

                      ..and the first two listings were photos of a lady with a bow on her backside in red and pink lingerie! :0 :0 :0

                      i'm awake now... and will be more mindful of spellcheck in future.

                      1. re: rmarisco

                        Hi, rmarisco:

                        For all I know, la Demoiselles Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin wore bows just so. I prefer that mental image to venerable M.A. Carême in lingerie (he published the recipe first, in 1841).

                        When you find a pan, after apple, try pineapple TT...


                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          sounds tasty -- particularly with a drizzle of dark rum. (doesnt it end up tasting quite a lot like pineapple upside-down cake?)

                      2. re: kaleokahu

                        Hi Kaleo,

                        I was wondering if you had any knowledge of Waldow Copper out of Brooklyn NY. I have a friend who just inherited a bunch and is willing to sell them to me very cheap. I am a mauviel lover but just don't know much (anything) about Waldow. A few are also marked "DUPARQUET". My inner copper horder tells me I should get the pans. I have not seen them but my friend tells me they are super heavy, although she is not into cooking and certainly not into copper so I don't really know where I stand in terms of thickness. I think I am going to tell her I want them before someone else snags them. Anyway, any advice would be appreciated.


                        1. re: Mars89112

                          Hi, Mars:

                          I know a bit about Waldow and Duparquet. Both were old defunct quality American makers, Waldow being more recent.

                          In the case of Waldow, you need to examine each piece to judge its quality--before it went OOB in the 1940s, it was selling quite thin stuff. Still there are iconic Waldow pieces that are worth having, especially their buffet wares and rotary bain maries.

                          In the case of Duparquet (there were several incarnations bearing the Duparquet name), IMO it is the closest America has come to the best European copperware. It usually runs <3mm in thickness, but >2mm. It has a rough-hewn style, robust handles and rivets, that is very collectible. It commands high prices among collectors. Vintage Duparquet is at least as good as the 2.5mm bimetal Mauviel now peddles.

                          It would depend on what "very cheap" means to the heiress. A few good Duparquet pieces could be worth $200-$400 each, depending on condition, and the Waldow pieces prolly not less than $40-$50/per.

                          If you email me photos at kaleokahu@gmail.com, I can give you better ideas about value.


                      3. clafoutis is baked in the oven -- even when living in France, I've never seen a recipe calling for anything but a baking dish in the oven.

                        I make tarte Tatin in my cast-iron skillet. I've also been known to make it in a 10" cake pan using a pair of tongs to move it off the burner.

                        1. I've had a Le Creuset one for years but I think I've made tart tatin in it once. It gets lots of use for pineapple upside down cake, Dutch apple cake and even pie. I want to get a second one so I can use it for layer cakes it bakes so well.